UK Households urged to regularly visit vulnerable relatives and neighbours over Christmas as cold weather kicks in
The call comes as new provisional figures from the ONS reveal 23,200* excess winter deaths were recorded in the UK during 2018/19.
People living in rural parts of the UK are more likely to struggle to keep warm during the winter season because their houses tend to be older and less well insulated, making them harder to heat effectively.
Furthermore, over 2.3 million people living in rural areas are over 65* and therefore often at greater risk of developing health problems, such as respiratory conditions, which are made worse by cold temperatures.
Alarmingly, it is estimated that 51%* of adults over 75 in the UK currently live alone and might not be getting the support they need to keep warm this winter.
In response OFTEC, which represents the oil heating industry, is urging everyone to check up on family members and those that could be most at risk during the colder months and has shared a checklist of things to look out for that could potentially save a life:
- Ensure main rooms are heated to at least 21°C with other commonly used rooms kept at no less than 18°C
- Make sure the heating system is working efficiently by adjusting heating timers as the weather changes and to ensure the heating comes on at the correct time
- For those that rely on oil or LPG, check that there is sufficient fuel in the tank to last through winter. If it needs topping up, use a reputable firm, which for oil means a member of the UK & Ireland Fuel Distributors Association (UKIFDA) who follow strict safety regulations
- Make sure the boiler has recently been serviced by an OFTEC (for oil or solid fuel) or GasSafe (for mains gas or LPG) registered technician who has checked it is working correctly and efficiently. If it does breakdown over winter, visit www.oftec.org to find the nearest local registered technician
- Ask if they are aware of energy payment and winter saving schemes available to them. These are there to support vulnerable households with heating bills over the winter. Visit the UK government online guidance to find out more information.
Malcolm Farrow, from OFTEC, commented: "This time of year can be a real struggle for many people across the UK, especially during the expensive festive period. As a result, some households resort to turning down their heating to save money.
"It is more important than ever that we look out for our relatives, friends and most vulnerable neighbours to check they are keeping warm and their heating system is working correctly. A quick visit or phone call over the festive period could be a lifesaving gift."
*Excess Winter Mortality Data, ONS November 2019
**Statistical digest of Rural England Data, November 2019
*** Office for National Statistics, General Lifestyle Survey
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